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Decision on Savchenko swap will be made by Putin — Russia FM

March 23, 13:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after talks with Lavrov that he hopes for a "humanitarian solution" in the Savchenko case but could not say anything about the possible mediation
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© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian presidential press service/TASS

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. The Russian side has heard of proposals on exchanging Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, but it is up to the Russian president to decide on this matter, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"Today we handed over an additional memo on this issue to German colleagues," Lavrov said after talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"We hear of proposals on the swap, and the issues will be considered in full accordance with the Russian legislation, the decision is taken by the head of state," Lavrov said.

Steinmeier told reporters after talks with Lavrov that he hopes for a "humanitarian solution" in the Savchenko case but could not say anything about the possible mediation.

On Tuesday, the Donetsk City Court in southern Russia’s Rostov Region found Savchenko guilty of complicity in the murder of Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin in eastern Ukraine and of illegal border crossing and sentenced her to 22 years in jail and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440). Savchenko earlier said she would neither recognize nor appeal the sentence.

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said on Tuesday that he was ready to exchange Savchenko for two Russians kept in detention in Ukraine - Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov - as soon as their own court trials were over. He referred to an alleged promise of Putin to hand over Savchenko to Ukraine. Poroshenko said, though, that Ukraine would never recognize the sentence passed on Savchenko as fair.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm on Wednesday Poroshenko’s statement on Putin’s alleged promise. "I do not know about such agreements," he said.

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